Pick Up These Handicrafts With A GI Tag When In Puducherry

Native and regional crafts in terracotta and papier mch have given Puducherry a double dose of the GI tag
Villianur terracotta art. Credit www.shutterstock.com / Spoorthy Danaboyina
Villianur terracotta art. Credit www.shutterstock.com / Spoorthy Danaboyina

The French have left an indelible mark on Puducherry by way of the French Quarter and papier m&acircché, but thriving along with them are the native arts and crafts of terracotta. The Union Territory of Puducherry, on the southeast coast of India, with the Bay of Bengal on one side and the state of Tamil Nadu, on the other, has two Geographical Identity tags to its credit one is the Villianur terracotta art, and the other is the Thirukannur papier m&acircché craft. What is more, the master terracotta craftsman under whose aegis both arts flourished is V.K. Munusamy Krishnapakthar, a Padma Shri awardee of 2020.  

Villianur Terracotta 

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It is created with local clay, refined, dried partially, and then cast or moulded into designs over 20 generations old. The exquisite workmanship which goes into the creations, such as idols of gods and goddesses, sculptures, lampshades, vases, etc., is famous worldwide, and flies off the shelves of artists. Gaining special importance are items for interior decoration and everyday tableware. But, of course, jewellery made of Villianur terracotta is quickly gaining popularity. 

There are two types of terracotta products from Puducherry, glazed and unglazed pottery. Both versions are being put to use to create modern design too. The Kulalar community of Puducherry is most involved in creating this art, and they have been doing so for generations. They have created a terracotta horse over six-foot-tall, with removable ears, legs, tail, and head. The community is reputed to be able to develop the one-inch-tall idol of Ganesha in under two minutes. 

Thirukannur Papier M&acircché Craft

Delicately detailed masks, dolls, figurines, et al., are crafted from paper pulp mixed with copper and zinc sulphate, chalk powder, limestone, and rice flour. The Thirukannur papier m&acircché craft is elaborately designed and decorated after it is moulded or cast, then it is lavished with lacquer and painted in bright natural colours.&nbspThis craft was brought to India by the French, and is now used to make figurines for the festivals of Kolu or Navratri, and Vinayaka Chaturthi.

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